VATICAN CITY (CNS) — True Christians are defined by the joy they carry in their hearts and the assurance that God accompanies them even in the most difficult circumstances, Pope Francis said at his morning Mass.

A Christian cannot exist without joy and a person who identifies himself or herself as Christian yet lives a sad life “is missing something,” the pope said May 23 during the Mass in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

“The identification card of a Christian is joy: the joy of the Gospel, the joy of having been elected by Jesus, saved by Jesus, regenerated by Jesus. (It is) the joy of the hope that Jesus is waiting for us, the joy that — even in the crosses and in the sufferings of this life — is expressed in a different way, which is having peace in the certainty that Jesus accompanies us; that he is with us,” he said.


The day’s Gospel reading from St. Mark (10:17-27) recalled Jesus’ encounter with a rich young man who asks Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life.

“Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me,” Jesus says to him.

The rich young man, the pope noted, ultimately chose sadness because he was “unable to open his heart to joy.” Although wealth is not evil in itself, the attachment to wealth and possessions can lead one toward the path of sadness.

“When — in our parishes, in our communities, in our institutions — we find people who say they are Christian and want to be Christian but are sad, there is something wrong. And we must help them to find Jesus, to take away that sadness so that they can rejoice in the Gospel, so they have this joy that is from the Gospel,” the pope said.

A Christian can’t help but live out his or her joy with a sense of wonder and amazement at the revelation of God’s love and at being saved from the attachment to worldly possessions, he said.

“Today let us ask the Lord to give us this (sense of) wonder before him, before the great spiritual wealth he has given us. May he give us joy, the joy of our life and of living through difficulties with peace in our hearts with this sense of wonder; may he protect us from looking for happiness from many things that, in the end, sadden us,” Pope Francis said.